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Crawford leads Xavier over Minnesota

Jordan Crawford scored 17 of his 28 points in the second half and Xavier kept its run of tournament success with a 65-54 victory over Minnesota in the first round of the West Regional on Friday in Milwaukee.

Xavier (25-8) will be in the second round for the fourth straight year, this time under first-year coach Chris Mack.

"There are different ways to motivate kids and we're really tired of being The Little Engine that Could," the coach said. "We're a really good program and our kids aren't scared to play anybody. We don't always win, but we're not afraid to compete."

Crawford has embodied that, playing in his first NCAA Tournament game in two years after transferring from Indiana, where the program was rocked by Kelvin Sampson's departure. Crawford has had five coaches in two years and endured another switch from Sean Miller to Mack before the season.

"I give him a lot of credit for getting ready and being hungry over the offseason," Mack said. "I give our school and Jordan a lot of credit for maturing as a person in the past year and a half."

But Xavier was far from a one-man show. Dante Jackson smothered the Gophers' best shooters on defense, Jamel McLean had 14 rebounds and Crawford provided the highlight plays for the sixth-seeded Musketeers.

Lawrence Westbrook scored 15 of his 19 points for Minnesota (21-14) in the first half, and the 11th-seeded Gophers went cold from three-point range late.

Xavier will face Pittsburgh in the second round. The Panthers beat the Musketeers 60-55 in last year's East Regional semifinals.

Pittsburgh 89, Oakland 66

Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown scored 17 points apiece and Pittsburgh avoided becoming the latest Big East powerhouse to get knocked off in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, overcoming a slow start to rout Oakland.

"We watched the games," Dixon said. "We're student-athletes, we like watching basketball. The Big East took some hits but that's not our main concern. We worry about what we have to do. We worried about Oakland."

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon didn't use the previous day's Big East upsets as motivation. "I know you can go that route and scare them," he said. "But my thing is to speak to strengths and talents of Oakland and make sure guys know how good they were. This team can really score and we had to defend."

Brown's strong performance off the bench was a boost for the third-seeded Panthers (25-8), who are making their ninth straight NCAA appearance and have advanced to the round of 16 in five of the previous eight. They'll try to continue that streak Sunday against No. 6 seed Xavier, which defeated 11th seed Minnesota 65-54 earlier Friday.

Big center Keith Benson scored 28 points for the 14th-seeded Golden Grizzlies (26-9), who played much of the first half without starting forward Derick Nelson after an elbow from Panthers center Gary McGhee opened a cut over his left eye.

- AP


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